July 2005

In this issue: Bridging the Digital Divide, Young Lao Photographers want your vote!, Coming Soon!, Opportunities for girls, Pass it On

Bridging the Digital Divide

Boys working at computersThe Listening Library in Luang Prabang isn't just about reading books, listening to cassettes and CDs or watching videos. We've also been busy bridging the digital divide, providing free public access to computers and technology. In just the last year we have logged more than 25,000 user computer hours. Users study everything from the English Language to English and Lao typing, Microsoft Office, photography, film editing and audio recording, and use a CDROM encyclopedia.

We aren't connected to the internet, but users have learned to type their emails here and save them to disk, saving valuable log on time. We are starting to explore ways to use the internet practically and creatively, such as participating in online projects or finding and downloading the software we need. We are creating more sophisticated users who know the power of the internet, beyond email, chat and games.

We Are Young Lao Photographers and We Want Your Vote!

Boy using camera 10 young Lao who study digital photography at the library entered an online photo contest called "Life Along the Mekong." Their photos are beautiful and give you a glimpse of life here. This is Touy, a 17 year old Hmong student who entered 5 photos.

To see his and everyone else's photos click on the link below and type in one of their names (Touy, Chaoyang, Sengthanou, Na, Bounyang, Vatthana, Chanpheng, Thathao, Khamseng, Soua) Once you are into the site you may be able to click on "album list" to get a link page to all entrants. If not you can continue to search by name. You can rate each photo with up to 5 stars, write comments and leave your name. We hope you'll check out our photos and vote, we want to see what you think.

Looking forward to meeting you in cyberspace!

see our photos...

Coming Soon!

Fishing scene on the mekongIf you like our photos, watch for our photo CD, "Laos Through Our Eyes." It is part of our effort to make our libraries sustainable through entrepreneurship.

This photo, "Fishing on the Mekong" taken by Sengthanou is on the CD and in the photo contest. To see his and other photos, click on the link above.


Girls readingLike in most 3rd world countries, girls in Laos have fewer educational opportunities.

In our high school library male and female use levels are equal but in freestanding libraries like The Listening Library boys outnumber girls. We do not actively recruit girls, however we do actively encourage the girls who come, because we recognize how important they are. They are among the most independent and are looking for role models, and they in turn are great role models for other girls.

Young girl "Na "Na is such a girl. She is Hmong and 14 years old. Of our 10 photo contestants, she was the only girl. She comes to the library every day because she wants to gain more knowledge but doesn't just study, she also spends a lot of time helping and teaching others.

Kuangsi waterfall in Luang PrabangOne of Na's photos in the contest is of Kuangsi waterfall in Luang Prabang, a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

When a local teacher started teaching community English classes in the village of Ban Thapen at the base of the waterfall we made it the site of our most recent and smallest library. Now it is only a box of books and casettes and teaching VCD's but will grow as local needs grow.

meet Bouyang, another user...

"Pass it On"

You can watch new skills pass through the library as people learn from each other. They lean over and help each other, watch over each other's shoulders and actively teach each other. They are learning that we are all both students and teachers. We are making this a part of the library culture, suggesting that when you learn something new you teach at least 2 people; that way we can harness the power of exponential growth, and change ourselves and our world.

You too can "pass it on." If you forward this newsletter to 2 friends, and the next day they each forward to 2 friends-in just 8 days 500 people would learn about us, all because of you.

If you have upgraded your electronics and don't know what to do with your old ones, pass them on. We can use your digital cameras, digital video recorders, CD walkman and CD cassette players and earphones.

Our mailing address

If you are reading this newsletter on your home computer, it is easy to forget that you are among the wealthiest and that we are talking about one of the least developed nations, a place where teacher's salaries average $20 a month and education is difficult to come by. Contributions, no matter how small, make a world of difference, especially when they become books and tools for motivated users. "Pass it on"-all contributions are tax deductible.